Napkin Haiku Review – A Thirty-Something Girl, L.M. Stull

I usually don’t dip into the literary romance genre, but L.M. Stull’s book was a pleasant surprise and has inspired me to check out a few more titles like hers. It has lots of heart and just the right amount of sugar – the perfect book for burrowing into a warm corner of your house and reading it cover to cover. Even though the main character, Hope, has seen more than her fair share of hard times, the book focuses on the upswing and her struggles to get back to happy. I don’t recommend many books to my wife, but I’ll definitely give her A Thirty-Something Girl.

A Thirty-Something Girl

Broken, on her knees
Surges up, down, back up again
Settles bittersweet

Get A Thirty-Something Girl

Midwestern Gothic Turns Four

Around this time last year, Robert James Rusell and I started talking about starting a literary journal focused on the Midwest. Neither one of us were quite sure how it’d turn out, whether or not we’d even get people to submit, or if we’d even manage to convince someone to read an issue.

Fast-forward to a year later, and I think the journal has exceeded both our expectations. Every time we open submissions, I’m constantly surprised not just by the quantity of stories and poetry we get, but the quality. Every issue we have to make the tough decision of where to draw the line in the sand, and every time we leave excellent works on the cutting room floor.

The Winter 2012 (#4) Issue is our biggest, and I won’t risk the old cliché of trying to claim it’s our best. But now that we’ve got a full year under our belt, I think we have found something that only a handful of other literary journals have – an identity. Each story, character and setting feels uniquely Midwestern, yet still resonates outside the region.

Midwestern Gothic Stats:
4 Issues
121 Contributors
253,279 Words
84 Stories
42 Poems
413 Tweets

I can’t share all the details, but the next year has plenty to be excited about. I can’t say what exactly just yet – you’ll just have to take my word for it.

In the meantime, head over to the site, browse the photography, meet a few of our contributors and maybe pick up an issue or two.

Midwestern Gothic

Napkin Haiku Review – They Live, The Deep Focus Series

I got this little gem of a book from Matt Butler, a college friend who’s managed to put up with me for a few years. If you’ve heard of They Live, you probably know of the indescribable John Carpenter film starring the indomitable Rowdy Roddy Piper. (Hint: if you haven’t, go watch it. Now.) You’d never think of this cult-classic as a stinging social commentary, but that’s exactly what the author, Jonathan Lethem, does. The results are hilarious, I laughed out loud several times while reading it.

Deep Focus Series has a few others in the collection that are definitely worth checking out if you like the treatment of They Live.

they live deep focus

Soul piercing look at
a movie with no soul. They
Live wins yet again.

Get They Live (Deep Focus)

Win Fabulous Prizes from Leah Petersen

Everyone loves free stuff, right?

If you don’t, this post is not for you. Right now over at there’s a little contest going on where you can enter to win books or hand-crafted knitted items – which is perfect because snowpocalypse is about to hit Chicago.

So if you’ve got a few head over there, follow her blog and twitter feed (because the best thing she has to give away for free are her online words)

Napkin Haiku Review – Towers of Midnight, by Brandon Sanderson & Robert Jordan

It’s an understatement to say I’d been looking forward to this book – I started reading the Wheel of Time series in the 7th grade. When Robert Jordan died, I figured any hope at a satisfying ending was lost. Thankfully, I was wrong in the second to last book of the series, Towers of Midnight, by Brandon Sanderson and Robert Jordan.

I plan on checking out more from Brandon Sanderson. He’s done beyond a bang up job taking over a complex universe that was, quite honestly, getting stagnant and breathed new life into it.

towers of midnight

Epic tale goes for
the throat. Never lets it go.
Glorious battle.

Get Towers of Midnight

How to Not Freak Out When the Client Calls About Content

It all starts after the client reads something on Mashable. They come to agency day saying, “We need to get smarter about content. We need a content strategy.”


“Can you guys take a look at our ________________ and come back with a POV?” (Fill in the blank with brand, website, social media presence, and/or paid/owned/earned efforts.

Source: Jonathan Rogers

A small task force is assembled.

Source: Funny or Die

But you all have work to do. Stuff with deadlines.

Source: gifmovie

Then the client emails the account guy. They need the POV tomorrow before they go on vacation.


The team scrambles and pulls a deck together. It’s smart, insightful and actionable. It’s also 2 a.m.


But the client’s reaction is _______________. (Fill in the blank with “I just don’t get how it hangs together” or “Someone from our digital knowledge center needs to weigh in on this.”


Now everyone is involved, and this is all anyone on your team can talk about.

Source: Jonathan Rogers

A client has a suggestion. “Let’s audit all the content our organization produces.”


All 3,400 pieces of content.


Then they ask you to work with their other “digital” agency who “gets it.”

Source: GIF Bomb Lady

You’re heading to Starbucks for your fifth cup of coffee when you hear someone say “content strategy.”


It turns out there are people who spend all day thinking about content.

Source: forgifs

In fact, they’ve done what your client is asking for seven other brands.

Source: LibbyLala

They’re convinced by your plea for help.

Source: gifsoup

A week after the kickoff, the content strategist reappears. You walk into the internal review more nervous than a nerd on prom night.

Source: thebvbway

But then they show you their excel spreadsheet.


It answers everything.


They not only documented every piece of content, but also interviewed eight key stakeholders and found some surprising insights.

Source: giphy

The team runs with it.

Source: giphy

The client loves the thinking.

Source: reactiongifs

The “digital” agency is speechless in the face of your awesomeness.


The client signs a fat, juicy content marketing scope.


The creatives come up with an award-winning concept that gets people participating with the brand on the spot.

Source: bestgifever

Everyone is happy.


And a project nobody wanted turned into a huge win for the team.

Source: Dominic Merrero

Napkin Haiku Review – The Dead Beat, by Cody James

The napkin haiku reviews keep coming! This one’s for The Dead Beat, by Cody James. You can check out more of her writing, art and photography here.

Another top-notch effort from Eight Cuts, I was lucky enough to get a special edition of the book – but you can still get the eBook for dirt cheap and a nice paperback copy for slightly more than dirt cheap. Do it, people!

the dead beat

Headlong tumble through
destructive lives. The whole book
awesomely alive

Get The Dead Beat